HOLLYWOOD, CA - In the heart of Hollywood is the hippest musical this year by far. J.O.B. The Hip-Hopera tells two parables, from the Bible’s book of Jobe and the tale of Cain and Abel, in the appropriate setting of Los Angeles using a Hip Hop Record label as a backdrop.

In what could have been hokey and cheesy on paper has turned into an internationally acclaimed fringe festival hit, winning Best New Play from the Montreal English Critics Circle. The script is smart, strong and hilarious.

Written by and starring Jerome Sable and Eli Batalion, two individuals who not only shine in their performance but leave a mark that these two are force to be reckoned with. Sable and Batalion take on the challenge of performing 10 roles, at times taking one role from the other. They excel in humor and never once lose a character in transition. Hats off to a job well done!

Directed by the award winning Stefan Novinski and talented choreographer Hassan Christopher, this musical is a non-stop visually entertaining piece of theater. The dancers - Shawn Beck-Gifford, Marissa Labog, Naomi Rhoads, Aimee Zannoni and Hassan Christopher – prove to be a gifted ensemble supporting the leads. Kudos to Ms. Labog – she may be small, but the girl will dance circles around anyone who challenges her.

Musically, the show intelligently mixes classical music with hip-hop that may haunt some theatergoers. The audience is even treated to a live DJ, in the name of DJ Celebrity, before the action begins to ‘set the mood’. Smart thinking. Also showcased is the talent of Nikkema Taylor, the sole female vocalist. She will appear whenever a high note is needed. Unfortunately, that’s the only time when one will see or hear her.

The sound and lighting design are also on target bringing the feel of being in a club just off of Hollywood Boulevard.

On a bonus note, in case the audience member feels lost or missed any of the plot - the actors gleefully recap the audience near the close in an inspired comedy piece and one of the best moments of the show.

Don’t let thoughts of the Bible or the notion that it’s a musical without an orchestra cloud the brain that would prevent your attendance. This show is a definite must see. And there isn’t much time left - this production, which opened late October, was been blessed with an extension and must close on December 11th.

So go Hip Hop a stop at J.O.B. The Hip-Hopera.

- Adrian Rennie

Maestro Arts and Reviews
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